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Don't Try to Put Humpty Dumpty Together -- Assemble Instead a Gorgeous Patchwork Quilt of Practices

Jan 3, 2008
Drop something that breaks and most of us have the instinct to try to put the pieces back together. Sometimes that approach works such as when the raw materials can be remixed to create the same result.

When the pieces don't naturally recombine into the original form (such as when you drop eggs), you may only be able to make an omelet.

But anyone can make an omelet out of broken eggs (with a little care and straining for egg shells).

What's a better thing to do? Turn those eggs into something far more valuable by adding other outstanding ingredients that aren't often found in an omelet and whipping the mixture to be ever so light and fluffy.

But even the best omelet isn't worth all that much. What about using the broken eggs instead to create a remarkable work of art? That could be worth millions.

So don't try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Let's look at how you might gain an advantage over your competitors by shooting way past their future performance before they get there by taking marvelous individual practices and combining them in new ways to make a gorgeous patchwork quilt of outstanding performance methods.

There are eight steps for creating a breakthrough solution (accomplishing 20 times more with the same time, effort, and resources). This article looks at step four, implement beyond the future best practice (the best anyone will be doing in the next five years in or out of your industry).

Jump Past Where Everyone Else Wants to Go

Successfully surpassing the future best practice requires that your best change leaders combine and homogenize efforts. These leaders must commit to this challenging objective and shift the organizational culture to support them. Those working on the implementation must become masters of understanding the subprocesses needed to make the successful change.

Triage for Maximum Effect

Narrow your focus to a few areas of highest promise so that you do not water down your potential for results. Begin by segmenting those aspects of exceeding future best practices into three categories that:

1. Can be implemented almost immediately with little effort.

2. Can be implemented within two years with effort and attention.

3. Can be implemented over more than two years.

In your triage agenda, you can probably do most things that fall into the first category easily, quickly, and with little help except where the activity stymies a high-priority item from the second category. The challenge comes in selecting from the second and third categories.

Here's an important limitation to keep in mind: You probably cannot make more than three or four changes at the same time that involve the same people. You'll make the most progress when you pick the best balance of near- and intermediate-term benefits while placing the least strain on your people and resources.

To that mix, add anything else you can do through aggressive use of outside resources that doesn't increase the internal burden. Within that agenda, give high priority to actions that will give you the most benefit over the next two years. Organize your efforts so that some significant benefits will be realized every six months or so to keep everyone motivated and working effectively.

We're Almost Broken

Since the thinking involved in steps five and six (finding and approaching the ideal best practice, the best anyone will ever be able to do) will suggest other outstanding choices, beware of setting too many firm projects at this step.

After all, you may be ready with better ideas from step six within just a few weeks. But if completing step six will take more than a few months, you should begin to implement some of what has been identified in step four.

In this case, my recommendation is that you reserve some change capacity (such as time of key people, analytical resources, and budget) beginning around the time that you will have some new projects to add. This approach may mean that you will choose to mine category 1 from the triage list more heavily for now than category 2.

Outsourcing for Outstanding Possibilities

To estimate how long it will take you to put a new practice in place, look at the experience of those who preceded you in implementing those practice elements. Then consider whether your organization will be a faster or slower learner and integrator than they were.

As you consider your choices, be open to having the company you studied or some of its former employees be an outsourcing provider to speed your progress. Simply because you want to employ a certain subprocess doesn't mean that you need to become the world's expert in that area.

Go Where the Benefits Are the Greatest

Beware of taking quantifications of likely benefits too literally. One project may appear to offer ten times the potential of another project, but the former project may also be a hundred times more difficult. Instead, emphasize places where you can effectively concentrate your resources while facing little resistance from any stakeholder or competitor.

Choose a project that seems to offer more benefits, however, when two competing projects present similar difficulty and degrees of opposition.

Are you ready to start stitching together that gorgeous patchwork quilt that will be the envy of all?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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